Confucius was a Chinese philosopher, politician, and teacher who lived in the first century B.C. He was a Chinese historical figure from the Spring and Autumn periods. Confucius is one of the few figures whose philosophy is centered on the characteristics that are needed in everyday life. Personal and governmental morality, the accuracy of social connections, justice, and sincerity were central to his thought. Apart from common sense, he taught individuals how to cultivate the values of modesty, planning, respect, moral behavior, honesty, and sincerity. He was known as Master Kong in China. He preached that the only way a human being could live a good life was to accept these values. Confucius believed that true happiness could only be obtained via well-planned acts and the assistance of one’s fellow man. His worldview aspired to assist not just a few select groups, but the whole population of the empire in which he lived.
Childhood and Adolescence
Confucius is thought to have been born around 551 B.C. at Zou, Lu state (near present-day Qufu, Shandong Province). Confucius was a descendant of the Shang dynasty Kings, according to Chinese legend. His ancestors fled from the Song state to the Lu state.
Ancient China had a strong class structure at the time. Confucius was a member of the Shi Class, which was positioned between the old nobles and the common people. People in this class sought social status based on their abilities and capabilities.
Kong He (aka Shuliang He) was his father’s name, and he was a Lu Military officer. His father is claimed to have divorced his first wife after she gave birth to two daughters and a boy who was disfigured. Confucius’ second wife was Yan, Confucius’ mother.
He lost his father when he was three years old, in 548 B.C., and was raised by his mother Yan Zhengzai under poor financial circumstances.
He lost his mother when he was 23 years old, and he mourned for three years, as is customary.
Although there is little information about his education, it is reported that he studied with Lao Dan and a Daoist Master. Chang Hong taught him music, and Xiang taught him the lute.
He worked as a bookkeeper, a cowherd, and a clerk in his early years.
Career of Confucius
He was China’s first teacher whose goal was to make education accessible to everybody. He became a teacher in his 30s (about 519 B.C.) in order to pursue his dream of becoming a vocation teacher. He was supported in this by his command of six arts: calligraphy, ritual, charioteering, arithmetic, music, and archery, as well as his understanding of history, classical traditions, and poetry.
He entered politics in 501 B.C., or when he was in his late 40s, and was made governor of a town in Lu state. This was regarded as a minor position at the time. After that, he became the Minister of Public Works. He did, however, rise to the position of “Minister of Crime” in Lu state.
The Lu state was ruled by a governing ducal house, with three aristocratic families reporting to the duke and holding hereditary positions in the Lu bureaucracy. Confucius wanted the state’s authority to be returned to the duke and a centralized government to be established. This would not have been possible without removing the walls of the three aristocratic families’ city fortresses.
He had some success with his strategy, but he was unable to implement the reforms necessary to restore the duke’s legitimate rule. He had made formidable adversaries within the state as a result of his actions.
After his assistance for the failed attempt to dismantle the fortified city walls of the strong Ji, Meng, and Shu families, he is thought to have left his homeland in 497 BC. He resigned from the state of Lu and did not return as long as Viscount Ji Huan was alive.
Confucius’ engagement in the leadership of the Lu state, according to another account (shiji), became a source of discontent for the adjacent state of Qi. Because the Qi state was concerned that Lu might become powerful, it sent him 100 horses and 80 beautiful dancing girls to entice him. The Duke was seduced and indulged in pleasure for three days, neglecting his official duties. Confucius was dissatisfied with this. He resigned around 498 B.C. and began traveling to north-east and central China to preach his political ideals.
The Confucianism philosophy
It is frequently regarded and followed in a religious manner by Chinese, but there is controversy over its religious character — many do not consider it religious and believe its character to be fairly secular. Though it discusses aspects of the afterlife and expresses opinions on Heaven, it is uninterested in several spiritual issues that are normally considered vital in religious philosophy.
Ethics of Confucius
Confucianism is concerned with the practical aspects of life, such as proper etiquette, treating others with kindness, and improving family connections. Confucius focused his lessons on moral and ethical principles rather than becoming poetic about God or metaphysics.
He was preoccupied with earthly issues, thus he based his thought on two fundamental concepts: being a true gentleman and having right conduct. He emphasized the importance of five qualities in a true gentleman: honesty, righteousness, loyalty, altruism, and goodness. When it comes to good behavior, the second most fundamental pillar of Confucianism, one should observe social etiquette and ceremonies because it is the quickest way to ethical growth.
Confucius believed that the best way to avoid the extremes of life was to practice moderation. He felt that each individual should maintain the dignity of their position; for example, a father should act responsibly and not deviate from his responsibilities.
Family was extremely important to him, and he believed that the bonds between master and servant, father and son, husband and wife, older and younger siblings, and two friends should all be respected. He also advised people to respect the elderly.
Confucius’s political philosophy
Confucius’ political philosophy arose from his ethical philosophy. The finest government, he claims, is one that governs by “rites” and people’s natural morality (ethics), rather than through bribery and compulsion.
He exhorted those in positions of political power to follow in the footsteps of those who came before them. He is thought to have resurrected a cohesive royal state by using ancient institutions and customs.
He did not believe in “democracy” because he considered that the common people had the intelligence to make decisions for themselves, and that not everyone is created equal, hence not everyone has the right to self-government.
He believed in a government ruled by a good monarch who would uphold the virtues of truth and honesty. He highlighted that if a monarch rules rightly, others will follow in their ruler’s footsteps.
He emphasized the importance of showing respect to superiors, but he also stated that subordinates must offer counsel to their superiors if they felt the superiors are acting inappropriately.
He felt that rulers should lead by example, and that if they did, there would be no need for forceful or punitive instructions.
Personal History and Legacy
Confucius married Qiguan when he was 19 years old, and they had a child named Kong Li a year later. Later in life, he was blessed with two additional daughters. One of her daughters is said to have died when she was a small child. He is said to have had a strained relationship with his wife and children.
He was exiled for about a year and a half. The talk about him being a visionary continued to grow. Zuo Zhuan claims that he returned to Lu at the age of 68 with the intention of writing and editing to preserve and teach his classical traditions.
In 479 B.C., at the age of 73, he departed for the afterlife. According to the “Records of the Historian,” he had over 3,000 disciples and around 72 of his students were able to master the “six arts” that Confucius mastered.
Confucius’ teachings were collected into Analects by his many pupils. Even after his death, his philosophical school was still running by his sole grandson Zisi. Confucius’ values were eventually instilled in pupils who later held official positions in Courts, paving the stage for Confucianism to establish its ideology.
There is no surviving Confucius sculpture or portrait. During the Han Dynasty, he is thought to have been visually depicted. He has been shown as an ideal philosopher in a number of paintings.
It was traditional to have a portrait of Confucius at his temples in the past, but during the reign of Hongwu Emperor of the Ming dynasty, it was decided that the only painting of Confucius should be shown in his home town of Qufu in Shandong.
He was buried in the Kong Lin cemetery in Qufu’s old district. The original tomb in his honor is located on the Sishui River’s bank.
His hometown, ‘Qufu,’ became a site of remembering and devotion shortly after his death. It became a pilgrimage site for ministers, according to ancient Chinese records.
This location has now evolved into a cultural tourism destination that attracts a large number of visitors. Many temples in pan-China civilizations have depictions of Buddha, Laozi, and Confucius combined.
Every year, the Chinese perform beautiful Confucius memorial celebrations, which have become a part of their culture.
Estimated Net Worth
Confucius profited from the Authors niche. Confucius made $69 million over his lifetime, as of the year 2021.